Updated 29th July, 2023
Many homeowners are interested in adding a fire pit to their backyard or outdoor space. This can be a great addition to your house and provides warmth and ambience on cool evenings. But, if you’re thinking about installing a fire pit on your deck or composite decking, there are some safety precautions you should follow.
Most people think that you can’t have a fire pit on a deck because it will damage the surface but if you use the right kind of fire pit and follow the proper do’s and don’ts you can have a completely safe experience.
In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of fire pits that are safe to use on a wooden deck and how to shield your deck from any cosmetic damage or even worse. We will also provide some tips for using a fire pits on a deck safely and prevent a dangerous fire.
What fire pits are suitable to use on a deck?
Wood burning fire pits or fire bowls
Wood burning fire pits and fire bowls are the most common type of commercially-available fire pit. They are also the most popular because they provide a natural wood-burning smell and experience. However, wood-burning fire pit might not be the outright safest option for a deck.
The reason is that the ashes can fall through the cracks in the fire pit and catch fire with the materials underneath. The hot embers and ashes can also cause the deck to discolour or even damage the wood.
Propane or gas fire pits
Propane or gas fire pits are a great option for a wooden deck because they don’t produce any wood ashes. This means that there is no risk of the wood ashes damaging the wood deck. Propane or gas fire pits also create less smoke than wood-burning fire pits, so they are less likely to discolour the wooden deck.
Electric fire pits
Electric fire pits are another great option for a wood deck fire pit. They don’t produce any wood ashes or smoke, so there is no risk of damage to the wooden deck. Electric fire pits are also very easy to use because you just need to plug them in before you safely enjoy their warmth
Common deck surfaces and materials
Wood decks are the most common type of deck. They are usually made from pressure-treated lumber, cedar, or redwood. Wooden decks are a great option because they are easy to maintain and they can last for many years. However, traditional decks are not the best option for a fire pit because they can be damaged by heat and flying sparks.
Composite decks are made from a mixture of recycled materials, non-combustible materials and plastic. They are a popular option because they are low maintenance and they don’t require any painting or staining. However, your composite deck can be damaged by the heat and flames from a fire pit.
Concrete patios are a popular option because they are durable and easy to maintain. If you have a concrete patio, you need to make sure that the fire pits are placed on a heat-resistant surface. A good option is to place the fire pit on a fire pit pad.
This will help to safeguard your concrete patio from any heat damage. You should also make sure that the fire pit is properly vented so that there is no risk of smoke damage.
Vinyl decking is a popular option because it is low maintenance and it doesn’t require any painting or staining. However, putting a fire pit directly on vinyl decking can start melting and can be damaged by the heat from a fire pit.
Risks of using a wood burning fire pit on a wood deck.
While a fire pit can add beauty and ambiance to any outdoor space, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with using flammable items on a deck and take the proper cautionary measures.
One of the biggest risks of installing a fire pit on a wood deck is the potential for the coals to spread outside of the pit and catch fire on the surface underneath. If the fire pit is not properly contained, and on a protective surface, embers can easily ignite nearby materials, including your deck.
This is especially true if your deck is made of flammable materials like wood. Even if your deck is made of composite materials, it’s still important to be careful and watch for flying sparks.
Another risk is the potential for damage to your deck. The heat from the fire can cause the decking boards to warp or crack. The fire pit can also leave behind wood ashes or soot that can discolour the deck.
Finally, there is the risk of personal injury. If the fire pit is not used properly, people can easily get burned.
For these reasons, it’s important to take precautions when using a fire pit on a wood deck range. Be sure to position the fire pit on a non-combustible surface such as brick or stone, and never leave the fire unattended.
By taking these simple precautions, you can enjoy your fire pit while keeping your family safe.
Tips for using a fire pit on a wood deck
Now that we’ve discussed the risks of a fire pit on a wood deck, let’s talk about some tips for doing it safely.
1. Always choose the right fire pit.
The first tip is to choose the best fire pit. As we mentioned earlier, wood-burning fire pits are not the best option for a deck. Propane or gas fire pits are a better choice because they don’t produce any ashes. Electric fire pits are also a good option because they don’t produce any wood ashes or smoke, but the downside is that don’t have any actual flames.
2. Choose the right fire pit location.
When placing a fire pit on a deck, it’s important to choose the right location. Make sure that the fire pit is placed on a non-combustible surface such as brick or stone pavers.
3. Make sure the fire pit is properly contained
The second tip is to make sure the fire pit is properly contained. This means that the fire pit should have a solid base and be surrounded by a non-flammable material like stone or brick. The fire pit can also be placed on a non-flammable surface like a concrete paver and surrounded by small concrete slabs to prevent full on fire damage.
4. Never leave the fire pit unattended.
The third tip is to never leave the fire unattended. This is important for any type of fire, but it’s especially important when using a fire pit on your deck. Make sure to extinguish the fire completely before leaving the area and the glowing embers can easily catch fire with a gust of wind.
5. Invest in a spark screen
There are a range of good quality spark guards or spark screens from retailers like Bunnings that can help stop burning wood particles from flying out of your fire pit or outdoor fireplace and landing on your deck. Spark guards provide additional protection for items that are around your fire, and like your outdoor furniture or anything that could be considered combustible.
6. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby
The fourth tip is to have a extinguisher handy. This is always a good idea when using any type of fire or high heat conditions, but it’s especially important when using a fire pits on a wood deck.
7. Always read the fire pit manual carefully
The most important tip is to always read the fire pit manual carefully. This is important for any type of fire pit, but it’s especially important when using a fire pit on a wood deck. Make sure to follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to remove any basic fire risk.
8. Clean up once cooled
Finally, be sure to clean up the fire pit area once the open flame of the fire is extinguished and the area has cooled. This includes removing any wood ashes or soot that may have been left behind.
What to Put Under a Fire Pit On a wood deck?
Fire pit pad
A fire pit pad is a great way to shelter your deck from the heat of the fire pit. There are many different types of fire pit pads on the market, constructed from different materials so be sure to choose one that is specifically designed for use on a deck.
When choosing a fire pit pad, be sure to select one that is the right size for your fire pit. You don’t want the fire pit to be too small or too large for the pad.
Be sure to choose a fire pit pad that has a non-slip surface. This will help to keep the fire pit in place and prevent it from sliding around on your deck.
Once you’ve selected the perfect fire pit pad, be sure to place it on a level deck’s surface before using your fire pit.
Use a base of concrete pavers
Another great option for protecting your deck is to use a concrete paver safety base. This is a great way to create a level deck surface for your fire pit and also an easy way to shield your wood deck or composite decks from the heat of the fire pit.
To use a paver safety base, simply place the concrete pavers around the fire pit. Be sure to choose pavers that are the same size or slightly larger than the fire pit. This will help to create a barrier between the fire pit and your wood deck. These large, heavy pavers are quite affordable and easy to get from hardware or landscaping stores like Bunnings.
Once you have the pavers in place, be sure to fill any gaps with sand. This will help to further protect your deck from the heat of the fire pit.
Fire Pit Barrier
If you want to create a barrier between your fire pit and your deck, you can do so by using a fire pits barriers. This is simply a piece of material that you place between the fire pit and your deck to allow less heat to transfer into the surface of your deck, and indeed the supporting structure.
There are many different types of fire pit barriers on the market, so be sure to choose one that is specifically designed for use on a deck.
Fire pit mats
Fire pit mat is another great way to protect your wood decking from the heat of the fire pit. These mats are placed under the fire pit and help to reflect the heat away the surface and can even be used on concrete decks to prevent discolouration. If you do one thing before installing a fire pit, this is a good option.
How to put a fire pit on a wooden deck
Use concrete pavers to make a heat resistant pad
You can use some simple concrete pavers from Bunnings or other hardware or landscaping company to create a heat-resistant base under your fire pit. Remember, a fire pit will always create heat and will eventually crack even concrete pavers. Consult a local tradie to make sure your installation is safe to use.
Purchase a heat-resistant pad
Using a fire pit mat , from a camping or outdoor store like Anaconda is a great way to protect your deck from radiant heat and embers. This one is the BioLite Fire Pit Mat and is available to purchase online.
Estimated Cost: 60 AUS
- Concrete Pavers
- Heat Resistant Mat
Materials: Concrete Paver Sand
Now that you know how to safely put a fire pit on your deck, go out and enjoy the warmth of the fire! Be sure to follow all of the tips listed above to keep your deck protected and everyone safe.
Do you have any other tips? Share them with us in the comments below!